Civil Liberties

This Utah Cop May Have Conceived the Worst Argument Yet for Pot Prohibition

Legalization will bring an epidemic of stoned bunnies, or something.


Christopher Ingraham writes in The Washington Post:

Of course you realize this means war.
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Utah is considering a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to be treated with edible forms of marijuana. If the bill passes, the state's wildlife may "cultivate a taste" for the plant, lose their fear of humans, and basically be high all the time. That's according to testimony presented to a Utah Senate panel (time stamp 58:00) last week by an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"I deal in facts. I deal in science," said special agent Matt Fairbanks, who's been working in the state for a decade….Fairbanks spoke of his time eliminating back-country marijuana grows in the Utah mountains, specifically the environmental costs associated with large-scale weed cultivation on public land: "Personally, I have seen entire mountainsides subjected to pesticides, harmful chemicals, deforestation and erosion," he said. "The ramifications to the flora, the animal life, the contaminated water, are still unknown."

Fairbanks said that at some illegal marijuana grow sites he saw "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana…." He continued: "One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone."

Ingraham then makes the obvious points that (1) the best way to end environmentally damaging grow operations is to legalize the plant, since that will let people "grow it on farms and in their gardens, rather than on remote mountainsides," and (2) even if Mr. Fairbanks did possibly once encounter a bunny afflicted with amotivational syndrome, "I don't know that the occasional high rabbit constitutes grounds for keeping marijuana prohibition in place, any more than drunk squirrels are an argument for outlawing alcohol." I'll just add that marijuana grows wild in plenty of places—they call it weed for a reason—and before it was banned it grew in still more. If any species then lost its will to run and died out, the news never reached me.

To hear Fairbanks describe his close encounter with a bunny, go to 1:02:03 below: